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REFIT Evaluation of the Zoos Directive

Council Directive 1999/22/EC
Of 29 March 1999
Relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos


In a nutshell

The Commission is currently evaluating the Zoos Directive to ensure that it is "fit for purpose".

In practice

As part of its Smart Regulation policy, the Commission initiated the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), a rolling programme to keep the entire stock of EU legislation under review. It affects the whole policy cycle, from initiation to evaluation, and aims to make EU law simpler and less costly.

REFIT evaluations provide an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected. They cover environmental, economic and social aspects, and concern all EU policy areas.

The Roadmap

The evaluation roadmap PDF is the "project plan". It sets out the subject of the evaluation and its purpose and provides key information on the scope, timing, data, stakeholder consultation and analysis planned to be used.

The key questions to be addressed are set out in the roadmap:

  • Effectiveness (Have the objectives been met?)
  • Efficiency (Were the costs involved reasonable?)
  • Coherence (Does the policy complement other actions or are there contradictions?)
  • Relevance (Is EU action still necessary?)
  • EU added value (Can or could similar changes have been achieved at national/regional level, or did EU action provide clear added value?)

In this context the REFIT exercise will examine, among other things:

  • Transposition, implementation and integration successes and problems;
  • The situation of implementation in different Member States
  • The extent to which the objectives have been reached/not reached and the reasons for this
  • Costs and benefits of the Directive;
  • The administrative burden caused by the Directive;
  • The relevance of the Directive to address certain needs
  • The coherence of the Directive with other legislative and non-legislative instruments
  • The extent to which the issues addressed by the Directive require action at EU-level

The Commission has launched a study to support the evaluation. This will entail compiling and analysing evidence as well drawing conclusions from the results.

  1. General Literature Review
  2. Targeted Consultation

    a) online survey

    b) interviews

  3. Public Consultation
  4. Workshop

1) Evidence-Gathering – General Literature Review

A range of information sources are used for the general literature review. Priority is given to the most recent publications and reports, older information is included as well when relevant for the study.

All documents relevant to the evaluation of the Zoos Directive are kept in a reference database which will be regularly updated as the evaluation proceeds.

2) a) Evidence Gathering – Targeted Consultation -Online Survey (August 2016 – November 2016)

The survey was targeted at representatives of all stakeholder groups in a representative set of 14 Member States and also included international and EU level organisations, associations and experts/academics. The following Member States were selected according to the number of zoos, the size of the country and presence of wild fauna, geography, balance between old and new Member States: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain.

Questionnaires and recipients lists
Questionnaire addressed to Member States' competent authorities
Recipients list competent authorities

Questionnaire addressed to zoos
Recipients list zoos

Questionnaire addressed to national and international NGOs, zoos federations, organisations and experts
Recipients list national NGOs, zoos federations, organisations and experts
Recipients list international and EU level NGOs, organisations and experts


2) b) Evidence Gathering – Targeted Consultation -Interviews (October 2016 – December 2016)

Interviews complemented the information collected through the online survey, and made sure that the points raised by stakeholders were fully understood. The interviews served to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the stakeholder perspectives, and to complete the overview developed with literature research and the preliminary survey results.
List of interviewed stakeholders
Interview questions
Interview questions addressed to Member States' competent authorities
Interview questions addressed to zoos
Interview questions addressed to zoos federations
Interview questions addressed to NGOs

Summary of results

3) Evidence Gathering – Public Consultation (15 September 2016 – 08 December 2016)

A 3-months public internet consultation in all 23 EU languages was carried out to gather opinions of the wider public on the Zoos Directive. The public consultation complements the information gathered through evidence gathering steps 1-2.

A total of 2297 responses were received.

Initial statistical results
Annex with full data set
List of all contributions where participants agreed their contribution could be directly published together with the personal/organisation information or could be published anonymously. In this case the data was anonymized.

The contributions of participants who did not agree to the publication of results are not published. They were, however, taken into account when analysing the results of the public consultation.

4) Workshop (16 May 2017)

The aim of the workshop was to present and discuss with Member States and other stakeholders the preliminary findings emerging from the assessment of evidence and information gathered.

The workshop was attended by 81 participants.

For further information please consult the workshop website.

Contributions outside targeted consultation activities/public consultation

Competent authorities of the 14 Member States not selected for the targeted consultation as well as all stakeholders who would like to provide additional contributions outside the consultation activities are invited to send these to the functional mailbox:

The contributions will be duly taken into account and published under the following conditions:

  • No anonymous contributions can be accepted. There is no obligation to disclose personal data, but we have to be able to inform the public by which stakeholder category a contribution has been submitted. If you would like to have your contribution published only with the stakeholder category, please inform us when sending it.
  • Organisations, networks, platforms or self-employed individuals engaged in activities aimed at influencing the EU decision making process are expected to register in the transparency Register. During the analysis of replies to the consultation, contributions from respondents who choose not to register will be treated as individual contributions (unless the contributors are recognised as representative stakeholders through Treaty provisions, European Social Dialogue, Art. 154-155 TFEU).
  • Please make sure that your contributions clearly relate to the evaluation criteria outlined above.

Position papers:

Born Free Foundation
Dolphinaria-Free Europe
Eurogroup for Animals
European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA)

Indicative timeframe

  • October 2015: Publication of the roadmap for the REFIT Evaluation of the Zoos Directive 1999/22/EC.
  • April 2016: Launch of a contract to help the Commission gather and assess relevant information and evidence

Contracted study to support the Commission evaluation:

  • August – November 2016: Evidence gathering and consultation of all Member States and key stakeholder groups
  • September – December 2016: 12-week public internet consultation
  • May 2017: Workshop
  • July 2017: Finalisation of the study contract supporting the REFIT evaluation
  • 3rd quarter 2018: Publication of the Commission Staff Working Document on the results of the REFIT evaluation

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